Missing diamond returned

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— Mount Werner has claimed countless gloves, water bottles, skis and Frisbees. But on Sunday, it could not claim Catherine Matthewson's diamond ring.

Matthewson, a Steamboat Springs resident, was out for a routine Sunday hike -- birds were chirping, the grass was green, and the sun was shining. Suddenly, Matthewson noticed that the almost 1-karat diamond from her engagement ring was missing.

"I don't think I had a cognitive thought to me. It was all emotion at that time," she said. "It was the deepest sadness I had ever felt."

The diamond was an heirloom with 65 years of family history.

"All I could think of was how hard my grandfather worked on his ranch to provide one token of love for my grandmother and how easily I went for a hike and lost it," she said.

Matthewson's grandfather had given the ring to her father, who then gave it to Matthewson's husband as a reminder of his wife's heritage.

Matthewson notified employees at Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.'s information center and lost and found of the missing diamond, and they leapt into action, instructing gondola employees to tell other hikers and mountain visitors to be on the lookout for the valuable stone.

Matthewson rode the gondola back up to the mountain to retrace her steps in hopes of finding the diamond.

Along the way, she ran into hikers from Virginia, who managed to understand Matthewson's story through her sobs. The Virginians then notified other hikers about the problem, including Joe and Lynne Caddell.

"There were so many people on the trail that day that I knew it was gone. It was gone," Matthewson said. "Between the kids, the dogs and the dirt, I just knew it had been lost."

But a short time later, Lynne Caddell found the diamond twinkling in a bush on the side of the trail.

Moments after the discovery, Ski Corp. employees told Matthewson that her diamond had been found. It was a moment Matthewson will never forget.

"It was incredible that everyone was working together on this little thing. It proves that there are still good people out there," she said.

Ski Corp. spokeswoman Heidi Thomsen said this is just another story that exemplifies why living in Steamboat is so incredible.

"The information center and lost and found, staffed by volunteers like Larry McCargar (who called Matthewson with the find), work well for our Steamboat Springs mountain guests because of honest people like Lynne and Joe Caddell. They really exhibit the true sense of Steamboat Springs' genuine spirit," Thomsen said.

Matthewson said she is extremely thankful to everyone who endured the three-hour ordeal with her.

"I just kept thinking I could never ski on the mountain again knowing I was skiing over my family heirloom," she said.

-- To contact Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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